This course introduces several anthropological approaches to the issue of cultural change. Globalization and transnational flows have reached into the most intimate spaces of local cultural life, forcing anthropology to rethink the culture concept. This course is intended as an invitation to critically think about cultural dynamics at play in each port stop. We will consider how international NGOs are shaping LGBTQ sexuality in India and Vietnam, how transnational patronage is influencing Global Buddhism in Malaysia, how untouchables in Japan and India are forming grassroots networks, and how the email-order bride industry is reconfiguring Chinese families and raising questions about female agency and structural violence. In addition to these and other case studies, we will examine important theories of cultural change within anthropology, from evolutionism used to normalize colonial inequalities to diffusionism, cultural ecology, functionalism, and world-systems. We will build up a theory toolkit that allows us to understand how local cultures are impacted by globalization and can respond by creating hybrid cultural forms. The course will include an in-country field class, in which students will directly observe cultural transformations and connect their ethnographic experience with course materials.
*Note: This class is delivered when lunch is served.
Field WorkCountry: Japan
Date: January 24, 2020
In a single day, we will experience the old and the new in Japan. We will visit one of the great historical icons of Japan – the Himeji Castle – participate in a traditional tea ceremony, and wander around Edo-style gardens. We will also speak with Dr. X about the rapid changes in Japan in the past few decades. Students will be able to compare the historical and rural with the cutting-edge contemporary and urban. These observations will deepen our understanding of the course materials about social precarity in modern Japan. We will visit Himeji Castle, the greatest example of a feudal castle and an icon of Japan. The building is often described as the White Heron Castle because it looks like a heron taking flight. While there, we will participate in a tea ceremony inside the elegant sukiya style tea room. We will have lunch at Kassui-ken overlooking beautiful gardens. And we will ramble around the Koko-en nine gardens, constructed in the Edo style and boasting great views of the castle. Back in Kobe, we will meet with Professor X; she will give us an informal lecture about contemporary change in Japan. OR: Sega ARCADE known for anime otaku at: Sannomiyachō 2-11-1.